begins a ninety-line poetic discourse on “Inhabiting Separate Bodies”: We have always been told that wanting rises, but here is something like longing asking for another reading. This is not desire if by desire we find ourselves driven toward the edges where exacting begins to clarify itself, where urge itself begins to set out trotlines for its own translations, where necessity begins to see its own measurability. Here Bourque’ s meditation begins to reflect both a complex sense of the cultural psyche and a lucid primal awareness. Next follows a subtle comment upon his own poetics: “This travels without sense / of strictness. It travels slowly and mostly down / with all these other bodies through paths skewed / for collision.” Matter ascends in this poem until it begins its slow descent through various stages, bringing pain to the poorly designed lower back, to the constricting chest, and to the limbs and extremities that “sing desire and parting and how”: early on these two lie easily in the same bed and how it all is as happy an arrangement as marriages ever get until we find ourselves somehow all the way up here; here, moving like moons circling the planet of whatever your matter and my matter make, never able to move any closer to whatever has this pull on us and will not let us go, never able to read the something we know is written there if only we could bring the right light to it, before we begin to sense recession, the sweet descent we have come to recognize the way we recognize our hands, our feet, the face that falls into the field where we look for ourselves. We sail past, are comforted by this configuration memory tells us we once took for ourselves, called by our very name. Desire-energy animates matter, flowing like blood through the body of this poetry. The “burnt water” of the title refers “to the opposition that engenders all creation and to the created thing itself,” Bourque points out in his notes. “It is at once both the phenomenal and the pervasive Urge that creates all being. It is then flower, sex, poem, person as well as the necessitating force or desire that resides in all matter.” Bourque first discovered the phrase in the poetry of Octavio Paz, who explicated it: “The opposition of water and fire is a metaphor for cosmic war…. It is an image of cosmos and man as a vast contradictory unity … the cosmos is movement, and the axis of blood of that movement is man.” Burnt Water Suite has seven sections, each technically varied and daring, each thematically integrated into one cohesive text. The poems should be read in sequence in order for the suite to be understood as more than the sum of its parts. His passages are composed to reveal their wisdom slowly, and the rhythm of the long lines cannot be fully appreciated when fragmented into slender columns. However, “Holy Water” can be represented by excerpts: Your mother is water. You are water. She runs Tigris and Euphrates through your veins. Her Nile flows into the waters of your longest river. Rivers she gives are not gifts. They never separate themselves enough from the two of you for that. She will give you a drum river. It will beat over you sleeping in the high branches in a sling she made just for you. One day you will fall suddenly. The fall will force you open. You will hit the skin of the drumhead yourself for the first time and it will change everything. You will be music from that moment. Everything else you do will be accompaniment. You are a sacramental thrumming. You are making all of time a vigil. Bourque’s poetry balances the tension of contrary opposites within his harmonium of solitude: being and matter evolve cosmos, and every soloist accompanies the silent music of the spheres; desire and parting are one pair married of yin and yang; mothers and children swim rivers of memory as water and fire flow into burnt water; spiritual life is sacred energy and sacrament. The complex ferment and contemplative vision of Burnt Water Suite remind this reader of expansive poems by Octavio Paz and Thomas Merton, also calling to mind a phrase from Albert Camus’ notebooks “lucidity in passion” which returns us to the intimacy and sophistication of Bach’s cello suites. Wings Press published these three diverse and challenging books by Chip Dameron, Hermine Pinson, and Darrell Bourque in 1999. This alone would be good news for any press, but it also brought out several other worthy titles last year. As for this year, 2000, this dynamic imprint will continue extending its literary wings while preserving its historic roots. However, literary dialogue cannot evolve in a cultural vacuum; inevitably it withers to monologue. Only the response of serious readers can make this a meaningful conversation. Do you read me? Robert Bonazzi founded Latitudes Press in 1966 in Houston, later editing it from New York, Mexico City, Austin, and \(since over eighty books, and will initiate a series of chapbooks by international authors in 2001. Bonazzi has three books of poetry in print and his fourth will be published this year. APRIL 28, 2000 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27 **MO
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